Spirit relegate Liquid to the last-chance bracket
The Russians swept the struggling North American squad and advanced to the lower final.
Spirit secured their second victory at ESL Pro League Season 17 thanks to their 2-0 sweep of Liquid in Group D's lower bracket. The Russians recovered from their previous loss to FORZE and are now just one best-of-three away from securing their spot in the playoffs.
These two teams previously met at IEM Katowice last month and Liquid eliminated Leonid "chopper" Vishnyakov and company after a three-map series in Poland. This time on the losing side, the North Americans are one step closer to elimination and have to win two consecutive BO3s if they want to reach the knockout stage.
Liquid opened up the series with a pistol round victory on Nuke to gain the early advantage. Their success was, however, short-lived as the bomb plant from Spirit allowed them to purchase rifles the next round and strike back. The Russians cruised through the rest of their offensive half to give chopper's men a comfortable lead before the break. Spirit's in-game leader led the charge with a 14-11 K-D and a 1.36 rating, powering his team to a 10-5 result on the T side.
The North Americans reduced the deficit after claiming the second pistol round before Igor "w0nderful" Zhdanov halted their advance on with four frags down the secret area. The Ukrainian marksman took over the CT side with ease, seemingly finding frags at will while protecting Spirit's bombsites. Nick "nitr0" Cannella gave Liquid a lifeline late in the half by winning an incredible 1v4 on the upper site, but his heroics were not enough to keep his team in contention. Spirit took their map pick with a 16-10 scoreline as w0nderful sported a 2.32 CT rating.
Spirit seemingly carried their form into Liquid's pick of Mirage and claimed their first pistol round of the series, but the North Americans were quick to respond with a dominant attack on the A site. nitr0 and company continued to exploit Spirit's weakness on the site throughout the first half, claiming 10 rounds on the bounce on their way to a 10-2 lead. Keith "NAF" Markovic was the star of the show for Liquid's T side, while Robert "Patsi" Isyanov and chopper helped the Russians salvage a 5-10 scoreline at halftime.
The Russian squad bounced back on the offense, slowly making their way back into the match from a 6-12 disadvantage. w0nderful started to fire on all cylinders after a quiet first half and helped Spirit claw their way back into the game alongside chopper. To make things worse for Liquid, nitr0 and NAF struggled to find their footing on the CT side, contributing to their seven-round losing streak as Spirit secured the sweep with a 16-13 scoreline.
|Spirit||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|46 - 24||+22||89.3||1.47|
|43 - 33||+10||80.9||1.24|
|37 - 42||-5||76.7||1.08|
|29 - 28||+1||60.0||1.00|
|31 - 33||-2||68.1||0.97|
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|36 - 30||+6||58.9||1.01|
|32 - 34||-2||70.9||0.99|
|26 - 39||-13||59.6||0.88|
|32 - 42||-10||70.6||0.88|
|32 - 41||-9||63.8||0.78|